A Waffle House like home

A Waffle House like home

A Waffle House like home

In America’s Deep South, where they are used to being battered by storms of a ferocious nature, the authorities have the very latest equipment to tell them what is happening, what is likely to happen and what has already happened. They need it. Nature has a way of taking her own revenge on human folly through the climate. We are all brutally aware of that now. Deo volente.

One institution provides a great example to the rest of us. It is Waffle House. Not perhaps a name that immediately inspires confidence of security and safety, or even of high-minded polemics. The best equipped weather-watchers depend on Waffle House. The 24-hour restaurants found at the corner of most big road intersections stay open rain or shine, storm or calm. They are refuges for many who seek shelter. Their strong construction and devotion to service win them accolades.

It would have been a catastrophic storm for a Waffle House to close. As the winds howl and rain batters the windows, Waffle House goes calmly about its business, nourishing those who fear noise and downpour, calming the nerves of the timorous and displaced with soothing chocolate drinks and maple-syrup-drenched waffles. There can be few things more likely to restore peace to the soul than a crispy, sweet waffle and the company of those similarly dispossessed.

Unfortunately, we find a lot of people needing that in today’s world. Not only because of physical storms but from troubles that have come their way, anxieties that the uncertainties of life have trapped them into, worries about the future as well as the next meal. It may be a grand political design that simply hasn’t catered for them. It may be just another life-threatening bout of illness. It may be their fault, but what has that to do with rescue? Professionals do their best, and very good it can be, too. Friends and relatives will rally, though sometimes not as much as they might.

Most that can be done will probably be done. But after the storm there is a feeling of loss even when the damage is limited. Post survival void affects humans and animals alike. It is a mixture of gratitude for being alive, and worry about the future. Material help is paramount, of course. But so is emotional help, the sense of calm, of peace, of looking best and seeing yourself standing firm when others are panicking around you. That is when you need Waffle House.

How strange that such a mundane thing as a roadside cafe should provide solace, a home from home. How prophetic the thought that one day we will all want a Waffle House to escape to. How charming that something built for profit can bring love and comfort in its wake. How demanding that you and I can be the Waffle House for someone else. Only a little thought can make it happen.

One day we all reach the sunset of life. It can be tough, it can be beautiful. Much depends on how others treat you. What happens after we don’t know. Nothing, very likely, I think. But as the time approaches I hope we shall all be able to see something to lighten our hearts.

In my case I hope it will be a Waffle House.